CrashPlan recently ran a discount offer for their one computer, unlimited backup plan so I decided to give it a try. [While the email I received said the promotions will end mid-October, when I check today it’s still active. The URL is: www.crashplan.com/mobilize.]
I’ve been using CrashPlan to back up my parent’s PC and it’s been working well. My main reason for using it on their PC was the ability to backup to a local disk in addition to online storage. (It can also back up to other PCs over the internet but that wasn’t a factor in it’s choice.)
Install CrashPlan on the Windows Home Server
It is the same software no matter what CrashPlan subscription plan you have – start by installing the software as a trial install. Download the Windows 64-bit version for Windows Home Server 2011. RDP (Remote Desktop) into the server and run the installer locally. I accepted the defaults for the entire wizard. Nice and simple. At the end of the installation CrashPlan will start and you’ll either create a new account or link to an existing account.
Create New Account
When the setup wizard completes CrashPlan will start. I want to create a new account for this testing and since this is a one computer subscription there’s no reason to add it to the CrashPlan account I already have for my parents. I enter the information to create the account.
Setup Encryption Key
One of my requirements is that the backups be encrypted using my own encryption key which is not available to the backup provider. So I went into Settings and selected “Replace With Your Own Data key (Advanced)” so that I could enter my own key. The CrashPlan docs indicate this encryption key will also be used for any additional computers I add to the account.
I click the passphrase option and enter in a 63 character passphrase
Acknowledge The Risk
Using my own encryption key brings some warning.
Default Backup Settings
The default settings aren’t very appropriate for a server so I’ll be changing them. I also want to select what to be backed up in relatively small groups to avoid bumping up to my bandwidth cap. I click the “Change” button under Files so I can deselect the Administrator’s home directory and add my first group of files to backup.
Select Files to Back Up
I select the files I want to back up. They total about 12.5 GB.
Start The Backup
Click the “”Start Backup” button to, well, start backing up. It’s initial estimate is that it was take just under 4 days although this was soon cut in half. The backup will continue even if I shut down the GUI and log off the user.
Adjust Bandwidth Limit
By default the outbound bandwidth was limited to 300 kbps. I’m in no particular hurry to get the backup done and I don’t want to impact my other internet activity, including other backups. So while this is well under my upload bandwidth I still lower it 100 kbps to avoid impacting performance while I’m home. At night and when I’m out for work I’ll bump it back to 300 kbps. At 100 kbps CrashPlan estimates 4.5 days to upload the 12.5 GB.
While CrashPlan isn’t officially supported under Windows Home Server 2011, and I’m leery of using it because of that, CrashPlan is generally reviewed positively so I’m going to give it a shot. Initially I’ll back up some files that don’t already get backed up to the cloud. They’re relatively large files (music, video, archived software) that don’t change a lot. With a data cap from my ISP it’s not feasible to store terabytes of data offsite, even if I had the bandwidth I’d hit the cap. While pricey, CrashPlan does offer the ability to get a hard disk in the mail as a restore solution. It’s a bit pricey but something I’d only need to pay for in a pinch.
So I’ll be doing some testing to see how CrashPlan works with Windows Home Server 2011. Anybody already using CrashPlan with WHS 2011?